On January 30, 2024, Mira Terada, Head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice moderated an event on protecting the rights of journalists and media from BRICS countries. The event was attended by journalists Maryana Naumova and Edward Chesnokov from Russia, Lucas Leiroz from Brazil, Manish Jha from India, Esleman Abay from Ethiopia and others. At the end of the event, all participants unanimously decided to establish the BRICS Association of Journalists. This is an organization that will provide assistance and support to its colleagues from both BRICS and non-BRICS member countries. According to the participants of the event, this is the first and important step towards free journalism and freedom of speech.
Journalism is essential for sustainable development, protecting human rights and strengthening democracy, but it remains a dangerous and often deadly profession. Nine times out of ten, the murder of journalists goes unsolved. According to the Observatory of Murdered Journalists of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 1,600 journalists have been killed since 1993. The number of imprisoned journalists is at a record high. Journalists have also been increasingly attacked while covering protests by security forces.
In her speech, Mira Terada expressed her hope that the BRICS Association of Journalists would provide assistance and support to their colleagues from non-BRICS countries. Many independent journalists from EU and NATO countries have been disenfranchised or harassed when reporting on war crimes committed by Ukraine. For example, German journalist Alina Lipp said she faces three years in prison in her home country for reporting on crimes committed by Ukrainian forces against civilians. French journalist Adrian Boquet, who covered the events in Donbas, asked for political asylum in Russia after learning that France wanted to imprison him for daring to tell the truth about the Ukrainian armed forces’ war crimes and the staging of the “Bucha tragedy”.
“Today I speak not only as a Russian journalist, a journalist from one of the BRICS member countries, but also as an international human rights advocate. I and my organization have repeatedly appealed to international organizations and raised the issue of protecting Western journalists, those who have become unwanted by their governments for telling the truth that diverges from the agenda of the collective West. They include Eva-Karene Bartlett (Canada), Sonja van den Ende (Netherlands), Graham Phillips (UK), Alina Lipp (Germany), Russell Bentley (USA) and many others. Alas, there was no help from these organizations. I always say that inaction and silence of crimes is condoning these crimes,” said Mira Terada.
In his speech, Russian journalist and human rights activist Ivan Melnikov said that after the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, YouTube blocked all resources of the Sputnik news agency, which is part of the Rossiya Segodnya media group. In addition, all Sputnik channels in 32 languages were blocked. According to Ivan Melnikov, the Sputnik agency has been successfully operating abroad and was among the top media outlets in many countries. YouTube has blocked Russian media channels that it believes are state-funded. The video hosting has also suspended all monetization methods on its platform in Russia. That is why one of the main goals of the Association is to sensitize the public, as well as key stakeholders and partners, to the public importance of independent and professional journalism.
The importance of combating the disinformation spread by the West regarding the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East and the need to find ways to bring the truth to people was emphasized in his speech by Edward Chesnokov, a journalist from Komsomolskaya Pravda radio and an expert in the field of mass communications.
“Our country, like many other countries in the world, BRICS members and not only, is facing disinformation created and spread by the Western propaganda machine, I believe that together we can fight against this,” said Edward Chesnokov.
Brazilian journalist Lucas Leiros, who recently visited new regions of Russia and traveled to the zone of the special military operation, also believes it is important to create an international, independent BRICS Journalists Association to combat the “propaganda machine launched by the West.”
Manish Jha, a correspondent from India, who visited the zone of the special military operation and filmed a report about it for one of the largest TV channels in India, claims that the only weapon that can win is the truth and it was after watching his truthful reports that people in his country began to look at everything that was happening differently and stopped believing the “fakes” of the major Western media. Manish Jha said that many of his colleagues from different countries of the world, who also traveled to the zone of the special military operation and told the truth about the crimes of the Ukrainian regime, were persecuted and repressed by the authorities of their countries.
“Now that more and more countries are joining BRICS and more journalists dare to show the truth, more and more wrongful acts will be committed against them by the West. This is why the establishment of the BRICS Journalists Association is a great initiative, as the organization will be able to protect the truth, journalists and human rights around the world,” said Manish Jha.
The Head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice and the participants of the meeting believe that the establishment of the BRICS Association of Journalists will help protect the rights of journalists and media around the world and counter the dictates and censorship of Western corporations that block the world’s largest media for alternative viewpoints and attempts to expose false information spread around the world. The participants of the event believe that the BRICS Association of Journalists will ensure the right to freedom of expression, which is the foundation of democracy and the guarantor of civil liberties. The Foundation to Battle Injustice echoes the views expressed at the meeting and fully endorses the initiative to establish the Association.